Hey, we baby boomers have been around for a while now, long enough to turn philosophical about the cycles we’ve seen so many times in our lives. That’s where BoomerCafé contributor Wendy Reichental is right now, at the beginning of Autumn. And sometimes she wishes she hadn’t opened her door to the new season.
Our four seasons have long been compared to the years in our lives. For instance I am now officially in the Autumn stage (40-60 years) of my life. It is a time rift with change, and do not get me started on all the physiological changes that take place in a woman’s body, as I already hate this season enough.
Apparently the Autumn season of our lives is also a time when we find ourselves taking stock of what matters to us most, possessing a mature view on life, ruminating over the crossroads we have encountered and looking forward to a still vibrant and hopefully long winding road ahead.
In the Chinese line of thinking, nature is observed through a lens of cycles also known as five elements or phases, and the seasons are divided as follows: Spring is a time of birth and growth, Summer a time of bloom, late Summer a time of completeness or maturation, Autumn shows us its true colors by forcing us to reflect and wither, and Winter tells us it’s time to rest and hibernate.
But mostly, Autumn is synonymous with change. I appreciate change and understand that in life it is inevitable … but I don’t have to like it. There is something melancholy about this time of year that I have never been able to reconcile. Perhaps this is why, once the cooler days approach and the first few golden-tinged leaves start freefalling from the trees, I begin my own creative shedding of sorts.
There is something about the onset of crisp days and cold nights that lends itself to making your home as warm and cozy as possible. Like those IKEA commercials that seem to advocate, “Long Live the Home,” and I could not agree more. After a long day at the office, I want to come home to a place that is inviting and comfortable.
As much as I despise change when it is commensurate with matters of loss, the only change I enjoy is the kind I can control.
And where I excel at this is at home. Here among my furniture, plants, and photographs, I am able to be the mastermind of manipulation. So much so that some days my husband comes home from work and drops his keys on the entrance table only to discover that they have plunked to the hardwood floor because I have now relegated this small table to the kitchen. I have to admit, it is sometimes fun watching him robotically come home and about to throw himself down in his favorite chair in the living room when he is actually about to crash into the glass coffee table instead. Thankfully, it hasn’t actually reached this point … not yet anyway.
But I manifest my pleasure for change this way because it is something tangible that I can do, and other than causing my husband some minor discomfort and frustration in not knowing whether I have left our bed in our bedroom, eventually even he succumbs to these new changes and sees, like I do, the freshness and new perspective that come with some random rearranging.
Back to Chinese philosophy. The natural cycle of Autumn conveys a time most associated with grief and letting go, especially of those things which no longer serve our highest good. In its simplest description, the trees drop their leaves so that their most basic vulnerability is revealed. Perhaps it’s why I feel so off-kilter every Autumn, just as the Earth tilts. It is also a time when I drop my cheerful façade and my raw self is exposed.
So as I face off the autumnal equinox with the shorter and darker days, I will fill my home with light, be it with candles that I no doubt will move around, or in the form of humor, for nothing can brighten a room or home quicker than the sound of laughter.
I will try to make peace with my solemn Autumn, partly because I have no choice. Things will continue to change, transform, be moved, and all I can do is relish in each colorful moment and heed the advice of an unknown author, “If you give up when it’s Winter, you will no doubt miss the promise of your Spring, the beauty of your Summer and the fulfillment of your Autumn.”
Writer Wendy Reichental lives in Montreal, Canada.